5 numbers that mattered this week

Written by Lisa

Continuing our POLITICO feature, where we dig into the latest polls and loop in other data streams to tell the story of how Americans are reacting to President Donald Trump and the upheaval he is bringing to Washington. Here are five numbers that mattered this week:

Democratic officials are gathering in Atlanta this weekend to choose a new party chairperson, and roughly half of their voters are paying attention.

According to this week’s POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, only 16 percent of self-identified Democratic voters say they are paying “a lot” of attention to the DNC chair race. But another 31 percent say they are paying “some” attention.

That means a combined majority of Democratic voters are paying either not much attention (32 percent) or no attention at all (21 percent) to the DNC chair election. But that still represents a great deal of attention for a once-obscure aspect of politics: how the out-of-power party chooses its leader.

There isn’t comparable polling of Republicans in 2009 (Michael Steele’s election) or 2011 (Reince Priebus), or Democrats in 2005 (Howard Dean). But at least for some Democratic voters, the intensity of the 2016 election hasn’t faded in the new year.

While the new DNC chair faces a daunting task — rebuilding the party’s electoral infrastructure while also serving as an effective public spokesperson and fundraiser — Democrats’ actual opposition to President Donald Trump’s agenda will mainly come from its congressional leaders.

Two new polls this week sketched out what rank-and-file Democrats across the country are seeking from congressional Democrats. According to a Pew Research Center survey, far more Democrats are more concerned the party won’t do enough to oppose Trump in Congress (72 percent) than that Democrats will go too far in blocking Trump (20 percent).

But that doesn’t mean Democrats want the party to block Trump at every turn. A new CBS News poll this week found more Democrats want the party’s congressional representatives to “try to work with … Trump and the Republicans in order to get things done” (52 percent) than want them to “stick to their positions even if it means not getting as much done” (42 percent).

Congressional Democrats will get their first real confrontation with Trump next week, when the new president heads to Capitol Hill to address a joint session of Congress for the first time.

The latest obstacle to a clean GOP effort to repeal and replace the 2010 health care law? An avalanche of new polling showing public perceptions of the law improving in recent weeks.

There was the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll (45 percent approve/45 percent disapprove), the Pew Research Center survey (54 percent approve/43 percent disapprove) and the CBS News poll (46 percent approve/49 percent disapprove) — each of which have showed an uptick in support over the past few months. On Thursday, a Quinnipiac University poll found 54 percent of voters don’t want Trump to support efforts to repeal the law.

On Friday, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its monthly health tracking poll, with nearly seven years’ worth of trendlines, dating back to when the law was enacted in the spring of 2010. The last time the Affordable Care Act’s net favorability — 48 percent favorable, versus 42 percent unfavorable in the current poll — was better than +6 was in September 2010, only six months after then-President Barack Obama signed it into law.

But despite what members of Congress may be seeing at their town-hall meetings — or on television, if they aren’t hosting town halls — the intensity gap on the law still favors its opponents. More respondents said they had a very unfavorable view of Obamacare (27 percent) than had a very favorable opinion (20 percent).

Trump’s voters chose him last fall because they wanted change. According to the national exit poll, a 39-percent plurality of voters said the ability to bring change was the most important attribute for a candidate — and those voters went for Trump overwhelmingly, 82 percent to 14 percent for Hillary Clinton.

But while voters think Trump is bringing change, more think it’s moving the U.S. in the wrong direction. Two new polls this week show more voters think Trump’s change is the wrong kind for the country than think he is moving things in the right direction.

A Quinnipiac University poll this week shows 45 percent of voters think Trump is bringing the wrong kind of change, more than the 38 percent who think he is bringing the right kind of change. Only 14 percent think Trump isn’t bringing much change to the country.

Similarly, a McClatchy-Marist poll shows 40 percent of voters describe the direction in which Trump is moving the country as change for the better, fewer than the 44 percent who say it’s change of the worse. Just 13 percent of voters think Trump isn’t bringing real change.

Trump might be starting his presidency with the lowest approval ratings in modern history, but voters are still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on one important subject: the economy.

The president’s approval ratings were well underwater in this week’s Quinnipiac University (38 percent approve/55 percent disapprove) and McClatchy-Marist (41 percent approve/49 percent disapprove) polls.

But both surveys show more support for Trump on the economy. In the Quinnipiac poll, 47 percent of voters approve of the way he is handling the economy, while only 41 percent disapprove. In the Marist poll, 45 percent approve of how Trump is handling the economy, and 43 percent disapprove.

Trump’s business experience was a major part of his appeal as a candidate — and despite a rocky start on other issues, voters still expect him to improve the economy. According to the CBS News poll, 59 percent are “very” or “somewhat” confident Trump’s policies will create jobs.


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